By / Mar 18

In this episode, Jill Waggoner and Lindsay discuss the number of Ukrainian refugees increasing to 3.1 million and President Zelenskyy’s address to Congress. They also talk about substance abuse within the church, the call to foster care, and why cohabitation is a bad idea. In addition, Lindsay interviews Jill, a pastor’s wife, about church, COVID, and the importance of pregnancy resource centers. 

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  1. Axios: UN: Over 3.1 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russian invasion began
  2. CNN: President Zelensky addressed U.S. Congress on Wed.

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By / Mar 11

As Russia continues to illegally wage war on Ukraine, new information breaks every few days, especially as this conflict is lived out in a digital age that offers 24/7, real-time access. Below are several important developments that you should know and pray about. 

Refugees flee to neighboring European countries. 

According to United Nations data, over 2.3 million people have fled Ukraine since February 24. (The total population of the country is around 44 million.) A spokesperson for UNICEF told NBC News that at least half of them are children, some of whom have been forced to travel on their own. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has stated that this is the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.

The majority of Ukranians who have fled the fighting have gone to neighboring countries like Poland, Hungary, Moldova, Slovakia, and Romania. Nearly 100,000, though, have gone to more distant countries such as Germany, France, and the U.K. Around 1.33 million people arrived in Poland, according to Poland’s embassy to the European Union, and Germany’s interior ministry registered a total of 80,035 refugees. 

Russia accused of bombing a children’s hospital

On Wednesday, the Russians proposed a 12-hour ceasefire to provide evacuation corridors from select cities such as Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, and Mariupol. But during that time period, Russian forces reportedly bombed a maternity and children’s hospital in Mariupol that killed three people, including one child. Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the bombing was “proof of a genocide.”

The United Nations Human Rights Office says that at least 549 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion. 

Governments and multinational corporations impose additional sanctions on Russia

President Joe Biden announced a U.S. ban on imports of oil, natural gas, and coal from Russia. U.S. imports from Russia account for only 8% of America’s energy, of which only about 3% was crude oil. The EU also plans to cut gas imports from Russia by two-thirds this year, and the U.K. says it will phase out “the import of Russian oil and oil products by the end of 2022.”

The U.K. has also frozen the assets of seven Russian oligarchs, including one that owns an English soccer team. Additionally, the U.K. has made it a criminal offense for Russian aircraft to enter British airspace. 

A number of international companies have also imposed voluntary sanctions. The list of companies includes Apple, Disney, Ford, MasterCard, McDonalds, and Visa. Coca-Cola and PepsiCo announced they would be pulling some products from the country.

“The private sector is united against Russia’s vicious war of choice,” said President Biden. 

Russians shut down Chernobyl nuclear plant

On the first day of the invasion, Russian forces seized control of the Chernobyl power plant in northern Ukraine, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster. The plant was disconnected from the state’s power grid which led the Ukrainian government to warn of possible radiation leak.

But the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says there has been “no critical impact” to the safety of Chernobyl. According to IAEA, the “heat load of spent fuel storage pool and volume of cooling water at #Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant [is] sufficient for effective heat removal without need for electrical supply.”

Ukraine’s energy minister said the country is doing “everything possible” to restore the electricity supply to the power plant “as soon as possible.”

U.S. denies transfer of Polish fighter planes

Poland offered to provide more than two dozen military aircraft to Ukraine. The government of Poland said it could transfer its 28 MiG-29 fighter planes to a U.S. military base — Ramstein Air Base in Germany — where they could then be given to the Ukranians.

But the chief spokesperson for the Pentagon and the head of the U.S. European Command both announced that the U.S. wouldn’t take part in an agreement to give warplanes to Poland after it sends its fleet to Ukraine. “We do not support the transfer of the fighters to the Ukrainian air force at this time and have no desire to see them in our custody either,” said Pentagon spokesman John Kirby

As this tragic war wages on, Christians should fight for peace through persistent prayer and advocacy in our sphere of influence. Our hope is that God, in his sovereignty and mercy, can bring this conflict to an end and spare lives. The Bible says, “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will” (Prov. 21:1). We ought to fervently pray that God would turn President Putin’s heart away from war, that he would protect those in harm’s way, and that he would give leaders in the U.S. and around the world the wisdom and fortitude to do what’s right.  

By / Mar 10

“I need ammunition, not a ride.” Those words sound like they could have been taken right out of the script for Band of Brothers. Instead, they were supposedly spoken several weeks ago in the context of a present war by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as he politely rejected an offer from the United States to evacuate him from his country ahead of Russia’s cruel and violent invasion. 

Zelenskyy, a former comedy actor, was elected president of Ukraine in 2019 on 73% of the popular vote. Presenting himself as an “everyman” and rejecting the pomp that usually accompanies high office, he was elected on the promise of eliminating corruption and negotiating peace in his country’s war-torn regions. In his mid-40s with a family that includes two young children, Zelenskyy seems the least likely candidate to be leading the military defense of his overmatched nation. No one would have blamed him for taking the offer to evacuate.

C.S. Lewis and the four cardinal virtues

It’s been nearly eight decades since the last large-scale ground invasion of a sovereign European nation by another nation. As Nazi bombs fell on his native land during that worldwide conflict, a university professor by the name of C.S. Lewis, himself a veteran of the First World War, gave a series of radio broadcasts that would later become the book known today as Mere Christianity

In a time of great uncertainty, Lewis’ voice filled the airwaves with a message of hope. In a world of violent division, Lewis offered his fellow citizens the opportunity for unity in the gospel of Jesus Christ. With his words he sought to construct a section of solid ground to steady the wobbly feet of a war-weary people. Those talks are still widely read today.

In his presentation of “mere Christianity,” Lewis briefly treated the four cardinal virtues — character traits that “all civilized people recognize.” These virtues are prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude. In his brief treatment of fortitude, Lewis defines the virtue as “both kinds of courage — the kind that faces danger as well as the kind that ‘sticks it’ under pain.” He then writes, “You will notice, of course, that you cannot practice any of the other virtues very long without bringing this one into play.”

The importance of fortitude (courage)

It’s this last point that interests me. How does fortitude, or courage, apply to the practice of all the other virtues? Lewis doesn’t elaborate further in Mere Christianity. If you want his deeper thoughts on the subject, you must turn to The Screwtape Letters, written during that same Second World War-period, in which the senior demon Screwtape advises his nephew demon Wormwood on how best to tempt human beings.

In letter 29, Screwtape references the war and turns his demented attention to the subject of how to use war to tempt humans away from God and virtue. Here Lewis writes, from the perspective of the demon, “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty, or mercy, which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky” (Mark 15:15).

Without courage, Lewis says, you can’t have any true virtue, because courage is necessary to persevere in any virtue through trial and danger. Without courage, our mercy will fail as soon as opposition arises. Without courage, our honesty will give way to deceit as soon as the pressure mounts. Without courage, we are victims to the whims of circumstances beyond our control. One needs courage or all virtue fails.

No one knew how Zelenskyy would respond in leading his country in the face of a demented tyrant with intimidating military power at his disposal. Thus far, the leader of Ukraine has shown the world that, contrary to what we’ve seen among many global leaders recently, virtue is not dead. In Zelenskyy, the world is watching courage on display, and he deserves our full support. As we mourn for the people of Ukraine, we should rejoice in the example of virtuous fortitude on display in Zelenskyy and so many others in Ukraine.

Cultivation of virtue depends on living pictures. We need to see examples of virtue being lived so that we will have well-trod trails in the wilderness of our own experience to follow. Christian people have always understood this. We know that we can only love and learn how to love by looking to the God who is love (1 John 4:16). Christ himself said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). How does Christ love us? Courageously, all the way to the cross and beyond.

Christ embodies all true virtue perfectly, including the courage that holds it all together. But in the example of Volodymyr Zelenskyy, we see an imperfect man willing to give his life for his country, and we are reminded that courageous virtue can still be found in unexpected places.

By / Mar 4

In this episode, Brent and Lindsay discuss war refugee estimates by the UN, the State of the Union address, and SBC president updates, including Ed Litton not running for reelection and Willy Rice running for election. They also talk about how war reveals objective truth and a new ERLC resource for information regarding the Mississippi abortion case. 

ERLC Content

Culture

  1. War refugees | Axios: UN estimates 1 million refugees from the crisis
  2. French president talks to Putin | CNN: Macron believes “worst is yet to come” for Russian invasion
  3. State of the Union | BP
  4. SBC president updates | BP: Ed Litton announces he will not run for reelection and  Pastor Willy Rice announces run for SBC president
  5. Baseball | Yahoo Sports: MLB cancels Opening Day

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  • Psalm 139 Project // Through the Psalm 139 Project, the ERLC is placing 50 ultrasound machines by the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade in 2023, and thanks to the overwhelming generosity of Southern Baptists and our pro-life partners, we’re already halfway to our goal. But requests for these lifesaving machines continue to pour in from around the country, and our team can’t keep up without your help. Will you take a stand for life by helping us place our next ultrasound machine? One hundred percent of financial contributions designated to the Psalm 139 Project go toward purchasing ultrasound machines and providing training for workers. Learn more at ERLC.com/50by50.